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Yale University Librarian Appointed Principal of Somerville College, Oxford

Yale President Richard C. Levin today announced that University Librarian Alice Prochaska has been appointed Principal of Somerville College, Oxford effective September 2010.

"This is a tremendous honor for Alice, and although we will miss her at Yale, her new position provides her with a remarkable opportunity for leadership at her alma mater," said Levin. "During her eight years as our University Librarian, Alice has provided conspicuous leadership in advancing Yale’s library system—although she would be the first to say that it is not her work, but that of the Library staff that should be credited."

Among a number of achievements during her tenure at Yale, Prochaska has overseen improvements in the physical fabric of the library system, from the renovated Lewis Walpole Library to the expanded Library Shelving Facility, the Haas Family Arts Library, and the Bass Library. She has provided leadership in local outreach programs, building up a network of relationships with schools, colleges and public libraries in Connecticut and the New Haven area. She has also demonstrated a commitment to improving diversity and collaboration in the workplace and it has given her particular pride to see the Yale University Library develop as the leading international research library of North America, with its growing strengths in nearly all parts of the world, and its extraordinary collections of special, rare and unique materials.

“I am honored and delighted to have been chosen as the next Principal of Somerville College,” Prochaska said. “I am sad about leaving Yale University Library, where I will have worked for nine years with a wonderfully talented and dedicated group of staff, but I know my colleagues will understand the tug of affection and loyalty that I feel in returning to Oxford.”

Prochaska studied at Somerville and received her undergraduate degree and doctorate in Modern History from Oxford University. Prior to her appointment at Yale in 2001 she was Director of Special Collections at the British Library and has previously held positions at the Institute for Historical Research at London University and the National Archives in the United Kingdom. She has served as Chair of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Standing Committee of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), chair of the National Council on Archives, a university governor and a Commissioner of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Historical Research and of Royal Holloway, University of London. Prochaska has just completed a term as Chair of the Board of the Center for Research Libraries (CRL) and she currently chairs the Special Collections Task Force of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL).

Prochaska will embark on research leave beginning in January 2010, during which she will develop research on the restitution of cultural materials and related questions concerning international cultural heritage, a topic that she has dealt with over the course of her professional career.